24 October 2019

London marathon: The end is in sight

March 31, 2011
London Marathon - end in sight

You are just a couple of weeks away from taking part in one of the biggest marathons in the world and just 26.2 miles from crossing the finish line. Having been on a long journey of training with some ups and downs experienced along the way, here are a few final thoughts on preventing injury and running to your full potential on race day.


This is the final stage in your training, where a progressively reduced training load is applied. It will not only decrease the negative effects both physiologically and psychologically, but will increase competition output.

Fatigue is minimised without your fitness being compromised. Manipulating several variables within this pre-competition stage will in fact maximise your performance. We’re not suggesting complete rest, but a slight decrease of around 30% on frequency with an intensity level that has a slight increase.

Muscle glycogen storage is therefore increased which decreases the likelihood of fatigue which could result in injury. Some of you will have already begun tapering. If you have not then now is the time.

Pre-event sports massage

Sports massage can result in not only physiological benefits but also psychological ones too. A good sports massage will increase blood flow and remove waste products. Tissue elasticity may have been hindered through your last few weeks of hard training, and scar tissue due to previous injuries will also reduce flexibility.

An improved recovery and performance as well as  injury prevention are some of the benefits of sports massage. Psychologically, reducing pre-race mental tension and stress can make all the difference.


Water makes up 60 per cent of your total body weight. For optimum performance, one key message here is to make sure you take enough fluids on board. We are all well aware of the inclement British weather and race day in previous years has seen temperatures as high as 22 Celsius.

Dehydration can be prevented, and hydration should begin some 12 hours prior to the marathon. This can be more of an issue for those who are slower runners, as they are exposed to the elements for an increased time.

Drinking at least 500ml 2 hours before the race and following this with another 150ml just before you start, will have you put in a great performance. Make sure you utilise water stops along the route.

I suggest drinking 400ml-800ml an hour, in small but regular bursts to help absorb fluid more efficiently. If you wait until you are thirsty to drink then you run the risk of it being too late. The important thing is  it’s important to work out your personal hydration strategy during training. Weather, existing fitness levels and duration of completing the marathon will also play a part in fluid intake.

The Wall

You should be filling your boots or rather running shoes with carbs such as cereals, potatoes, rice and pasta. The idea here is to fill your muscles to their maximum (carb loading) storing as much glycogen as possible.

Blood glucose levels need to be kept stable, let them drop too low and you could face ‘hitting the wall’. This is where your brain and your muscles have no fuel left (mile 20 – 21 is where this can often happen as its widely believed we can only store enough glycogen for about 20 miles of running).

It is common for sports drinks, gels and bars to be readily used along the route. These contain carbohydrate and by now, you should have tried and tested which works best for you. For most you will be out running way past midday so as I like to say ‘you would not go out in your car with an empty tank, and the same goes for your body’. Fill up before you go.

Finally, the day itself


Set your alarm, and get up early. Pre-race nerves may do this for you. Those glycogen stores will have reduced, even whilst you sleep, so you will need to top them back up again. Porridge is great, it is easy to digest and should be eaten a couple of hours before the start. This will give you plenty of time to get there and get yourself organised.

Remember, you have put in numerous hours and covered a few hundred miles in preparation for the day. Your body is most definitely prepared and it is now a case of ‘mind over matter’. You have come this far, and that the end is most definitely in sight.

Lisa Fenwick, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine

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